By Henry Abbott
I happened to tune in for the third quarter of last night's Bulls win over the Spurs. What I saw was what Matt McHale of By the Horns wrote:
Let me put this bluntly: Tyrus sucked in the first half. After two quarters, Ty’s line was: 11 minutes, zero points on 0-for-3 shooting, 2 rebounds, 2 fouls. He was outplayed by his potential replacement, Taj Gibson, whose shooting was off but who grabbed three offensive rebounds and was aggressive enough to earn some free throws during the Bulls’ frigid first half. Heck, little Jannero Pargo finished those first 24 minutes with more blocks (1) than Thomas (0).
But T-Rise was the player of the second half. He led the charge coming out of the break, hitting back-to-back jumpers from 17 and 16 feet out. He blocked a Tony Parker layup. He blocked another Parker layup. He swooped to the basket on a fast break and drew the foul from Matt Bonner. He grabbed some rebounds. He drilled another 17-footer. He blocked a Duncan layup. He threw down a vicious dunk (off a sweet assist from Brad Miller) and drew the “And one!” from Richard Jefferson. Chicago’s first two scores of the fourth quarter were a Thomas free throw (Antonio McDyess fouled him on a drive) and 17-footer.
Like Noah, Thomas’ final line (13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks) doesn’t leap out of the box score, but he lit a fire under the Bulls in the second half. No question about it.
A couple of other notes from that game: In the second half, Tony Parker scored as many points as I did, and the Spurs looked a bit unenthusiastic.
I asked David Thorpe for the early report on the team he has picked to win it all. 48 Minutes of Hell has been questioning the Spurs' defense. Thorpe points out that this team was never going to be great on the second night of a back-to-back, but there are days off in the playoffs.
Again, way too early to read anything into anything, but one or two games in, the standings are certainly wacky with Oklahoma City, Toronto and Minnesota feeling more combined swagger than the Cavaliers and Spurs.